Title: The Harp of Kings
Author: Juliet Marillier
Series: Warrior Bards #1
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Ace Books
Publication date: September 3rd, 2019
Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.
Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision and is faced with a heartbreaking choice. . .
“To be the best, you must give body, heart and soul.”
The Harp of Kings was my first dive into Juliet Marillier’s fantasy world, and I was so excited. I’ve been hearing amazing things about this book lately, and the premise sounded absolutely fantastic, so I went into it with such high expectations, and overall I ended up really enjoying this book, though I had some issues with certain elements of the story.
Something that actually surprised me was how easy it was for me to get into this world. I was a bit intimidated by the length and the author, and was expecting the world building and the writing to be much harder, but I had no issue whatsoever getting into he story. I also enjoyed how the first few chapter set the tone of the story and made the reader intrigued to know what was going to happen.
When it comes to the world and the magic, I have to say I was pretty impressed. I loved how we got to know the society and the world and creatures as we stepped farther into the novel, and how complex the world was. I would say that I found certain elements of the magic system a bit unexplained, and that made me feel that some of the things that happened and had something to do with that magic were a bit conveniently done, but for the most part, I was so pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed The Harp of Kings.
“Who would not want to excel? Who would not want a chance to change the course of battles, or to influence the minds of the powerful?”
My main issue with this novel had to do with the pacing. Though it was a pretty fast paced book given all the information given to us, I struggled a lot with it. It had such a slow burning plot, and because of that there were times where nothing was actually happening and I became a bit bored. I feel it dragged a bit in certain parts, and the ending was a bit rushed. There were other things that seemed a bit unnecessary and didn’t add much to the story, and made me feel a bit disconnected to what was going on.
My other problem with The Harp of King regarded the characters. First of all, I have to say that I overall really enjoyed the cast of characters and the dynamics they shared throughout the story, and I think they all had their own individual growth. However, given the fact that I was so enamored with this book before reaching the half mark, I was a bit disappointed by how disconnected I became in the second half of the story. Maybe it was because nothing was actually going on and it was more focused on their everyday lives while being undercover, but I was expecting much more from them.
I really enjoyed some of the relationships formed within the story, and think that the interactions between the characters were really well done and made sense in my head, but since this book is told in three different POVs, I found myself not as interesting in one of the perspectives as in the other two.
Overall, I think The Harp of Kings was a solid book and I will definitely be picking up more by Juliet Marillier in the future. It’s true that I had some issues with the pacing and the characters, but the plot was super interesting and the relationships that bloomed throughout the story were pretty complex and interesting.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own.
“I’m about to promise I’ll stay out of trouble, but I stop myself. Promises have a habit of coming back to bite you.”
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